- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 21, 2004

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — A man convicted of the murders of his landlady and her daughter-in-law received two consecutive sentences of life without parole yesterday.

In sparing Kenneth Abend’s life, Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Pamela North noted that the murders seemed out of character for the Glen Burnie resident.

The judge said Abend had showed a “deep devotion to God before the murders were committed,” and had been a “peaceful, nonviolent prisoner” since his arrest, according to Kristin Riggin, a spokeswoman for the county prosecutor.

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty for the January 2002 slayings of Laverne M. Browning and her daughter-in-law, Tamie C. Browning.

Judge North also sentenced Abend to life plus 20 years for a sex offense committed with one of the murders and 20 years for a handgun violation.

She said several mitigating circumstances outweighed the aggravating circumstances surrounding the murders. Those included his history of PCP use, head injuries as an adult and a dysfunctional family. She said she believed the 42-year-old Glen Burnie man was too mentally impaired to understand what he was doing when he fatally shot the two women.

“The basis of this was overwhelming evidence from expert after expert,” said Judge North, referring to testimony during nearly a week of hearings on whether Abend should be executed.

Miss Riggin said prosecutors felt Abend merited the death penalty.

“However, we understand her rationale. We hope that this in some way brings closure to the victims’ family,” Miss Riggin said.

Defense lawyer Harry Trainor said he planned to appeal the sentence.

“We are of the opinion that he was in a psychotic state at the time of the murders,” Mr. Trainor told the Baltimore Sun.

Judge North also apologized to the victims’ family for what she described as a misunderstanding during the sentencing phase of the trial.

Last week, she allowed the family to testify on the impact of the crimes after having first ruled that such testimony should follow sentencing.

Judge North said Maryland law is not clear on when victim-impact statements should be given, and she urged the legislature to clarify its intent.

After the sentencing, Randy Browning, son of Laverne M. Browning, 70, and husband of Tamie Browning, 36, said in a written statement: “I would not get any satisfaction out [of] watching Abend die. I try not to carry that kind of hate, because it will eat you up inside.”

He and other relatives of the victims said that they did not believe that Abend did not remember what happened at the time of the murder as he had claimed. They also felt that he was not remorseful.

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